Saturday, 31 January 2009

Sizzling Saturday

Yes, it's hot again...but you know, we've had a cool change. It's only meant to be 37C today. Ridiculous! However, since we all think we're doing better the family have scattered about, spread between birthday parties, school working bees and novels. I am half way through my book club book, which I am certain will earn itself a review here.

Somehow or another my grocery shopping day seems to have shifted, so I will venture out shortly to get that done. We have friends coming for lunch tomorrow and I have in my possession a recipe for lemon raspberry trifle. So I have some preparation to do tonight. I'll test the recipe out before I post it, but if it's anything like what I tasted on Wednesday it will be worth the wait!

My dear husband was trying to invite these particular friends for dinner. I suppose since he's back at work he forgot about the first day of school looming there before the rest of us, so I insisted on lunch instead.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Escaping The Heat

Picture from

For the first time ever, we've had cooling going all night. We had cooling in the house we lived in 6 years ago and we never had it going all night before. Such is our heatwave. I decided this morning it's a worrisome state of affairs when you think 37C is looking like a cool change. Dh's brother is right ~ it's easier to get warm when it's really cold. He's just flown in from snowy Colorado! Poor man.

I also experienced a moment of concern when I detected a hint of smoke in the air. Having checked the CFA incident site I think it's either come from a small fire down the hill or drifted in from Gippsland.

So today in my quest to avoid overheating I am going to make icy poles for the kids. If we still have some, it might just be made from cordial. Otherwise I'll buy some juice or something to make them with. We have some friends coming to share our cool home so we'll have sandwiches for the kids and salads for the Mum's. I need to run up the street and grab a couple of things so I'd better get going and do that before Dh leaves for work.

If you're in Adelaide or Melbourne, make sure you find somewhere cool to be. Be it a pool, or someone elses home, or a shopping centre. Drink lots and be sensible.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

A Sweetness to the Soul by Jane Kirkpatrick

Lest you think all I've done this week is read and review, I must reassure you...I read and reviewed whilst on holidays. Whilst the children were occupied by their friends and we had no television to gobble up our time I had plenty of time for reading and Dh had taken his laptop with us so I could write as I finished the book.

I think this might be the last one Rel has from me ... for the moment. My review for 'A Sweetness to the Soul' by Jane Kirkpatrick has been posted here at Relz Reviewz. Again, another beautiful story full of truths to ponder and providing the impetus for contemplating the wisdom of bending to life when necessary, and knowing when to stand firm.

Rel also has news of a very special give away, so make sure you check out today's post about Robert Liparulo.


On today's agenda ~ keeping the house cool and keeping us inside. I also get to combine a night off from cooking (oh so wonderful when the forecast is for 43C) and spending time with Dh's brother, who is here in business from the US and has scheduled a day to spend time with family. The poor man will be glad to go home for a rest, such is the size of his family LOL.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

My First Day...

...Went very well. I came home early, seeing as how Primary & Secondary staff were off to section meetings that really had nothing to do with me! I have a little bit more to go on now, but the timetable hasn't been set in concrete yet so all these things will be finalised by early next week. At least I know what classes I'll be in and I know that I'll still have time to help in Miss Mischief's class as well :)

I get to enjoy the first day of school, as a parent. And it sounds like they're happy for me to request Thursday morning off.

Tell you what's pretty darn hot out there. Some of the secondary classrooms have air conditioning, so that's where we were meeting. On a day where it is currently 42.5C I'm glad to come home in a nice cool house. Praise the Lord for wonderful blessings!

A Mr Busy Moment

I was enjoying a lovely little cuddle with my busy little boy yesterday morning. Mum & I just rolled on the floor laughing thanks to yet another Mr Busy Gem....

Me: One day soon you won't be able to fit on my knee anymore, you'll be too big.
Mr Busy: That's OK Mum. You can sit on my knee instead.

I don't know that he'll feel the same way in 5-10 years time....but my goodness we had a good laugh. And he joined in!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Feast of Saint Bertie by Kathleen Popa

Another of my reviews has been posted at Relz Reviewz. At the beginning of my holiday I picked up 'The Feast of Saint Bertie'. I could not have chosen a more perfect book to begin a time away with. To read my review, click here.

And while you're over there, have a little peek around. Rel always has a give away, a character spotlight or some interesting tidbit to discover as well as reviews of fantastic books.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Menus on Monday - End of January!

Now tell me, how on earth did we get here already? Was it not just yesterday we were celebrating New Year's Eve? The end of January. Well. Here we go year...we're about to get on the merry-go-round!

This week has me returning to work after exactly 13 years of being at home. That feels very strange to say. Firstly because it's hard to consider what I will be doing 'work'. I love being at school! Secondly because I never imagined I would be one to step out of my completely SAHM role to have a job. But what a job. I didn't apply....I had no interview process to go through. It just happened. I'm very relieved to have skipped the scary stuff!

So this week of firsts and very hot days (it's meant to be 39C on Wednesday) has a menu that looks like:

Monday: Don't know ~ we'll be at Mum's
Tuesday: Fish, garden salad, potato salad
Wednesday: Honey Mustard Chicken, salad
Thursday: Dinner with BIL (he's visiting from the US). I'm waiting to see if the 'boys' and their families are coming here for dinner, or we're going to a restaurant.
Friday: Vegetable Patties, salad, potato wedges
Saturday: Homemade Pizza (pineapple & bacon; onion, garlic & potato)
Sunday: Baked Gnocchi with Roast Tomato Sauce

I do believe that Saturday and Sunday will be ushered in with a flurry of other kitchen activities that will include baking for lunch box snacks and making sure there is fresh bread for school lunch sandwiches. Not to mention digging out lunch boxes and ensuring the little ice packs are all in the freezer. We now have a set of 6 so that they can be in constant rotation. Forgetting to refreeze them in the evening will not result in disaster the next day!


Sunday, 25 January 2009

Pure Bliss

The picture above is one I found at It is my absolutely most favourite breakfast ~ strawberry jam on toast....with lashings of real butter. that could just melt me right there!

Have you ever noticed that when you can't have something, it's the very thing that will drive you to distraction? I'm not eating a lot of wheat right now, so I really, really miss having a piece of homemade wholemeal bread, toasted and topped with butter and jam. *sigh* I really miss it. Yoghurt and fresh fruit...even beautiful aromatic stone fruits... just don't hold a candle to a piece of toast, for me.

So yesterday it dawned on me that I could come close. I had bought some gluten free flour, so I made half a batch of my pancake recipe and had pancakes with strawberry jam.

Oh the pure bliss and joy. Ashamedly I ate all four. Next time I'll make a whole batch of mixture and freeze what I don't eat for breakfast. And next time? It'll just be two at a time!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

My review for 'The Outsider' by Ann Gabhart has been posted at Relz Reviewz. Click here to go and have a little look. It was a completely fascinating read, set in a 'Shaker' community.

One of the biggest thrills I get is when an author takes time to pop in here and leave me a little comment....which Ann did yesterday. Thank you Ann ~ it was absolutely the bright spot of my day!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Ponderings and Resolutions

I'm not one for new year resolutions although I do tend to be one who uses the change of a year to take stock of the last and look to what changes can be made for improvement in the new. I usually tend to focus on activities in my observations and cull what has left me feeling stressed and over committed.

Over the last two weeks, thanks to some rather stinging comments, I have been pondering more character related lessons. It took me a little while to decide if the comments were worthy of my contemplation. Was it a case of comparing bananas with guavas or am I really that unreasonable a person? I decided that perhaps there is a little truth on each side of fence. Not that I believe I'm unreasonable to the extent that was indicated, but perhaps there are some areas of character that should be identified to be improved upon. At the same time I was reading 1 Peter. Goodness only knows why I decided that I should be reading that book at that time, but two little verses did pop out at me.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (v 3-4)

I've noticed that many very conservative Christian women use these verses to declare we must be fairly plain and only wear dresses. To me, the two verses together indicate that our focus should be on our true beauty being within instead rather than our focus being the beauty of what we wear without (not that there's anything wrong with dressing well!).

My goal for this year is to pursue what a 'gentle and quiet spirit' looks like for me. God hasn't made me to be quiet and gentle, naturally. However, there must be a gentle and quiet that fits with how He has made me. And so, my prayer for this year is that God would show me what and how I need to change for that inner beauty to be more true in me.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Fruit Mince Pies

I know Christmas is over, but I had some leftover fruit mince stashed away in the freezer. The idea of little fruit mince pies appealed to me yesterday, and so here they are.

Because I'm having a few little problems with wheat at the moment, I decided to give Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry a go, using gluten free flour. The pastry came together fine, but it was a tad on the difficult side to work with. However, I did manage to accomplish what I set out to and will enjoy the fruits of my labours for the next week or pie at a time. They don't really look so pretty, but they certainly taste good to me. Maggie Beer's fruit mince recipe is absolutely delicious.

I'm pondering now, my luncheon options for today. We have some friends coming for lunch. I'm thinking the kids might enjoy sandwiches made from lavash flat bread. A burst of colourful flavour is always so much more appealing than an ordinary sandwich! I also have a loaf of bread in the bread machine for the 5yo who is likely to declare "But I don't want that"...vegemite sandwiches are always the way to his heart. For us grown ups, I have some roasted capsicum and feta in the fridge...I might roast some mini roma tomatoes and make a warm pasta salad ~ with gluten free pasta. My friend has also gone back to a wheat free diet. We make a good pair, I think!

I also need to come up with something to take for a shared lunch next Wednesday. My criteria? Very inexpensive, healthy, simple. I don't want much, do I?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Back to School....

The kids and I went shopping this afternoon. Armed with my grant from the government for families of Year 7 children, we took to Kmart and Big W. A school bag each....T-Shirts, shorts for Mr Busy, shoes for Miss Sunshine....they are all happy. The girls still need some summer 'bottoms' to go with their tops but I think an Op Shop trip might be in order there.

When we arrived home I received my third letter from school this week ~ busy beavers those office staff! My letter though was not addressed to 'Dear Our School Parents', but rather 'Dear Our School Staff'. Staff! OK then. I guess I'll find out nitty gritty details when I arrive on Wednesday morning for staff meetings LOL. All I know right now is that I will be working as a Teachers Assistant. How exciting!

In The Garden

Just before the holidays I posted pictures of my vegies...the few that are there. Bean tendrils have reached the top of the posts they are climbing on. I also discovered a few beans that will need to be picked very soon.

The tiny little tomato plants, which I was assured needed no staking, are also bearing fruit. I think they won't bear much, as the plants are quite small. However, we will get to enjoy some homegrown tomatoes with a great deal of joy regardless.

I also found a self seeded tomato plant near the beans. I wonder if they're cherry tomatoes or regulars?

The basil died. I suspected it would, without daily care. I'd like to re-invest in some flat leaf parsley and add basil, thyme and oregano to my herb garden.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

My Op Shop Treasures

I've had some magnificent Op Shop finds lately. Some, from one of the local shops in Our Town. Others from further the nearest and furtherest reaches of Gippsland. Because you know, you just can't go on holidays unless you scour every Op Shop within cooee of where you happen to be! Lucky for me, the families we camp with love a good Op Shop experience. And most fortunately we all look for different things!

The picture above are my most recent finds. The plates and cups on the right are from Our Town and the more retro vintage plates, cups, book and basket are what I discovered along our journey. The basket was mine for a mere 50c. I nearly died of shock and snapped it up before anyone else had the foresight to reach for it! As you can see, my mismatched collection of vintage plates is well on its way. I have been completely inspired by my local quilt shop owner. Every time someone brings something for morning tea at Sewing Circle she pulls out a pile of bread and butter plates. They are a stunning, beautiful, simple collection of retro and vintage plates...I love them. I could just go and sit in front of her cupboard and dream over her collection, really. So I decided to start my own.

'The Hostess Cookbook' is published in Australia in 1952. It is a charming glimpse into the insights required for lone-hand housewifery! I do believe I may just give sponge cake making a go. Mine never turned out as light and moist as my late mother-in-law's and so I gave up, never having had the foresight to have her show me how she did it before she died. This book has many little tips and tricks included for success.

Monday, 19 January 2009

A Beautiful Thing..errr...Things

I just had to post. I have a new toy...a new control panel on the wall. Right next to the heater controller is now a cooler controller. Oh yes I am one happy and very cool lady right now! Unfortunately, it wasn't able to be turned on til about 3.30pm, so the poor thing is working pretty hard right now, considering it's 34C. But in our home it's a balmy, cool 26C. Oh you can bring on summer ~ we're all ready for it!

While I was on holidays, I received two awards from fellow bloggers. Both are surprising and thrilling!

I received this fabulous blog award from Jenni. According to the rules I must list 5 addictions, and then pass this on to five other bloggers. about put the thinking cap on LOL.

My five addictions:
  1. My Family
  2. Reading Christian Fiction
  3. Really really good food
  4. Craft...fabric/sewing craft to be specific
  5. Chocolate...of course. Although a good Tira Misu never goes astray!

This next award is from my dear bloggy friend, Kate. for blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude. I cannot tell you how perfectly timed this award is for me. You see, I've just had my annual dose of being made to feel like the very worst parent on the face of the earth. Perhaps it's never intended, but that is certainly how I end up feeling. My advice to anyone tempted to do so is this: Do not ever comment publicly about your negative opinion of someone elses parenting style.

So Kate, I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement of my blog and subsequently me. It also very much tickled me that Little Jenny Wren was included on that same list. Now there is one inspiring role model when it comes to gratitude and attitude!

Now I am supposed to pass the first award on to five other blogs and the second one to ten. I don't think I even have 10 that I read regularly....that would require more time than I have LOL.

If your blog is on my sidebar, then consider yourself awarded and tagged.

Summer Menu Monday

I think this week is all set to be the warmest week all summer, so far. We had a couple of hot days last week ~ we spent them at the mouth of the Betka River in Mallacoota (close to the NSW boarder). The younger kids frolicked in the river waters. The older teens and Dads body surfed in the ocean. It's the perfect beach for a group of families with such varying age ranges and swimming abilities to cater for. It was certainly much cooler on the beach than it was at the caravan park!

Today.....the day I have been waiting for, ever since we moved out of our house in the suburbs six years ago. Today we are having evaporative cooling installed. Thank you Mr Rudd! That lovely grant intended for spending on Christmas has been put to far better use. It will ensure comfort for our family on awful hot summer days. We will no longer need to run away from home to seek cooler buildings and I will be able to plan meals more sensibly without drooping at the thought of having a single gas jet on the cook top going for just 10 minutes.

So, what are we having for dinner on a week of warm days?!

Monday: (bbq) Lamb rissoles (garlic & rosemary), cubed potatoes, salad
Tuesday: Ricotta fritters, salad, potato wedges
Wednesday: Fish, potato wedges, salad
Thursday: Warm Chicken Salad, dinner rolls
Friday: Quiche, salad, garlic bread
Saturday: Char Kway Teow (Malaysian noddle dish)
Sunday: BBQ chicken wings & sausages, cubed potatoes, coleslaw

I have a freezer drawer full of fish. Dh & Mr V (whom we camped with) caught lots of Taylor, Gummy Shark and Flathead. It came to me cleaned, scaled and filleted :). There is nothing better than fresh fish. We'll use the Taylor first, because I prefer the gummy & flatty and those are fresher as well.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Warm Chicken & Coriander Salad

One of the things I love about summer camping with friends is that you come across a new meal or recipe that is worthy of adding to your own menu repertoire. This recipe is absolutely delicious. Although we don't like fresh coriander...and so, as it is with many recipes, we've tweaked it to suit our likes and dislikes and taken on board some tweaking from the family who passed this on to us.

Warm Chicken and Coriander Salad

1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
6 chicken thigh fillets, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
1 red capsicum, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
lettuce, chopped (something robust like cos or iceberg, not soft)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice

  1. Heat oil in pan, add nuts and stir fry until lightly browned, remove from pan.
  2. Reheat pan and add chicken. Cook until tender; drain on absorbent paper.
  3. Combine the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.
  4. Combine nuts, chicken, coriander, capsicum, celery, lettuce and dressing. Gently stir in tomatoes, avocado and spring onions.
For those of us who dislike coriander, you could use flat leaf parsley, or basil instead. Or nothing. We don't enjoy celery raw, and certainly I don't have it with me when we're camping so that was omitted too. One of the tweaks from my friend, that I liked and used was to add some diced, sauted bacon. My friend also seasoned her chicken with some season-all type of thing. Hers was nice, but I had none so did it without and it was still very yummy.

I served this as a meal with cheese rolls from the bakery (I was given 6 rolls for free that day).

Monday, 12 January 2009

Mid January Menu Planning

I'm popping my head up out of books (my favourite holiday past time!) to post this week's menu plan....

Monday: Jacket Potatoes, topped with bacon, cheese, coleslaw, tinned corn, sour cream, maybe avocado if we're really doing well!
Tuesday: Chicken wings, salad
Wednesday: Warm Lamb Salad
Thursday: Chicken Kebabs, bbq'd potato cubes, salad
Friday: Souvlaki/wraps
Saturday: Take Away
Sunday: Frittata & wedges

Summer is just wonderful for lazing on the beach and reading books :)

Now, back to my books....

Saturday, 10 January 2009

My Basil Surprise

Look what happened to the basil I bought, not so long ago! See...if you look carefully you will see little roots growing out of the bottom of the stems.

I find this very surprising. The basil was bought at the Safeway in Our Town, and I just shoved it in a glass, hoping to get to use most of it before it wilted, went smelly and died. But no, it's started growing. I believe I will need basil-striking lessons now! I've never had such wonderful basil that really wanted to grow!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Main Meal Salads

At the risk of appearing to think of nothing but I'm thinking main meal salads. By far my favourite this last year is Maggie Beer's Smoked Chook Salad (using regular cooked chook!). You'll find her recipe here.

My other favourite is a warm lamb salad.

Herbed Lamb with Ricotta and Pea Salad

500g diced lamb
1/4 cup bottled mint sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup shelled fresh peas
100g sugar snap peas
100g snow peas
1 heat butter lettuce, leaves separated
100g cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
200g fresh ricotta (or feta)
Vinaigrette, to serve
  1. Combine lamb, mint sauce and oil in a bowl; cover and chill for 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. Blanch peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas in patches, in boiling water until tender, but still crisp and bright green; drain. Refresh in cold water; drain.
  3. Preheat a bbq or char-grill to high; lightly brush with oil. Threat lamb on soaked skewers. Cook for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked as you like it.
  4. Meanwhile arrange lettuce, vegies, peas and tomatoes on plates; crumble cheese over. Drizzle with dressing. Serve with lamb.
Vinaigrette: Mix together 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1-1.5 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons dijon mustard, sugar & salt to taste.

I'm not a huge fan of mint, so I marinate the lamb in garlic, lemon juice and olive oil (not overnight!) and I use chops, which are then sliced on the diagonal after cooking. It's much cheaper to use chops than diced meat.

Monday, 5 January 2009

First Menu Place for 2009

Here we go planning in 2009. If I was smart I would just dig out last year's January plan and follow it. But how boring would that be LOL.

Monday: Bacon & Mushroom Risotto
Tuesday: ??
Wednesday: Cold meat, salad
Thursday: Warm Chicken Salad
Friday: Ricotta Fritters, salad
Saturday: Chicken Kebabs, salad
Sunday: BBQ meat (chicken wings or rissoles?), salad

I'm not sure what will happen for Tuesday night until Tuesday. We traditionally celebrate the day with friends for their son's birthday. Sometimes we get Chinese take away (we cook our own rice), and then do dessert. Sometimes we just do dessert. I'll wait to be led!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope 2009 is full of joy and blessing for each of you.

How cool for me ~ I found a picture of fireworks over Albert Park Lake on!